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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

St Michael's Mount



Note to all Beaker People. There are many connections between St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, and Mont St Michel in Normandy. There is the Celtic connection; the association between these two similar rocks and St Michael; the potential pagan underlay; the frankly barmy idea about the Dragon Ley (which, needless to say, also passes through Husborne Crawley).

What they are not is the same place. It's not funny to affect to be French, and wander around addressing people as "garcon". If you inform them that the monkey is in the tree, or that "Sylvianne pique tout le monde", they will wonder what you are on about.

On another matter, the event at Men-an-Tol. Yes, Grafmir did eat too many Cornish Cream Teas. However the Fire Brigade tell me that within twenty-four hours, dehydration will have lost him enough weight to get out.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Great Rollright

All in all, the journey to the Rollright Stones could have been worse. Especially if the Extreeme Beaker Folk hadn't been thrown out of the last pub before their 9th pint of Old Hookie.

Please can Beaker Folk note for reference next year - access to the Stones is banned between sundown and sunrise. Sneaking in is strictly forbidden. We believe the two Beaker People who returned, cold and terrified, at 1 am were off to indulge in some kind of "fertilility rite" - but on encountering shady forms near the Whispering Knights, they legged it back to our B&B in the dark. On further investigation, we discovered that it was three hippies looking for a gateway into a parallel dimension and not the powers of darkness. On the other hand, the hippies were from Bromsgrove, so an easy mistake to make...

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Wessex Men and Wessex Girls (apologies - Wessex Women)

All preparations are now made for the annual Beaker Folk expedition the sacred places of the West.

Please bear in mind that this is the land of Arthur; of Alfred; of Joseph of Arimathea; of Hardy and Cecil Day Lewis. Our pilgrimage is not about scrumpy and St Austell "Wreckers". We don't want a repeat of Burton's stay in Truro General.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Saw the whole of the moon?

Well, what a shame that the skies over Husborne Crawley were on the hazy side. However some glimpses of the eclipse - and now the awesome site of the first hints of the sun, bringing a pink hue to the skies over the Amazon warehouse at Marston Gate.

Some notes of clarification I should perhaps have issued before all that panic broke out at 3am. The expression "the moon has turned to blood" is a metaphorical one. It refers to the colour of the moon, and also references the prophecy of Joel, and its interpretation by St Peter on the Day of Pentecost.
It is not meant to be taken literally. Those members of the Order of the Gibbon who decided that a war had broken out between the Man in the Moon (today we prefer Occupant of the Moon) and the Moon-gibbons, causing the moon to run with blood - were frankly just losing it. The peace chants and the prayers for reconciliation on Luna were unnecessary.

Anyone now suffering from cold-related illnesses should make their way to the community First Aid room, where Hnaef will be serving hot toddies and handing out blankets. If he'd only shave his legs (it'd be for charity...) he'd make a lovely nurse.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Gibbon Moon

Warning to all Beaker Folk intent on dancing in Ashley Heath this evening. Frankly the forecast is for it to be a bit taters. Please wear at least six layers, and a hi-viz to assist the Bedfordshire Mountain Rescue should you get into difficulties.

Anyone planning any more extreeme dancing, please leave it to another evening. I spent far too much time at MK General last year as a result of that kind of behaviour.

To clarify terminology - the current moon is gibbous, meaning it's less than full but more than half full. Some-one misheard us while we were taking sightings this afternoon and went off telling other people it's the "gibbon moon". By tea-time it had formed into a fully-fledged sect worshipping the moon-gibbon. It is said that the moon-gibbon brings fertility (inevitably...), and that it rewards those of its followers who climb in trees while proclaiming the gibbon song. For goodness' sake, get a grip.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Thin Place Bungee

I am sorry to report yet another unacceptable use for a thin place.

The thin place in the beech spinney is very important to the life of the community. It is a place of communion and refreshment. A place to feel close to the Divine and the Earthly.

It is not acceptable to tie a length of elastic rope to the top of one of the trees and bungee. You are not repeatedly and rapidly entering another dimension - you are simply showing a lack of respect.

Also, it's too cold and foggy to go climbing in those trees. Hnaef is now severely bruised after missing his footing in a high branch. We'll discuss what exactly he, as a senior member of the Druidic team, thought he was up to once he comes round...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Ash Wednesday / New Moon

First of all, let's explode a few myths.

Ash Wednesday is nothing to do with the new smokers' shelter down at the White Horse. Even though it is particularly snug, what with the heater and the double insulation. It is nothing to do with cigarette smoke.

In common with many modern Christian festivals it has pagan origins. In this case it stretches back to the reverence of the ash tree. The ash (or "ashe", as the Celts called it) has many symbolic associations. In the Norse, it was Ygdrassil, the world-tree. In Anglo-Saxon times it was believed that ash dryads were the most comely. Only one thing on their minds, the Anglo-Saxons. Especially the Saxons. In many ways our Beaker Fertility Folk are rather similar.

In Beaker times, ash trees were used as the precursors for stone circles. This was a good way of getting your ley-lines sorted out during the thirty or forty years it took to drag the stones down from Wales, Scotland or - according to choice - Basildon. The use of ash trees in this way is evidenced in the many placenames and surnames that include "Ashley" - "the ley marked by the ash". We can speculate that when the stones were finally in place the ashes gave their last service as they were burnt, illuminating the great rituals in the solstitial dawns and dusks when the sarsens were consecrated.

The druids had great reverence for the Ash, which they regarded as second only to the Oak as a host for the holy mistletoe. To be honest we've no evidence for this, but it stands to reason, doesn't it...

The sacredness of the Ash was recognized also in the Middle East, to the extent that one of the Tribes of Israel took its name from the tree, as did the Canaanite goddess Ashtaroth.

In Celtic times yet more placenames received their names from the tree. Ashton-under-Lyme, for example, got its name from the habit of interring an ash barrel (or "tun") in quicklime at the winter solstice, in the hope that the gods would accept this sacrifice in return for restoring light to the world. Likewise Cold Ashby, Northants, gets its name from the sacrifice of an ash tree at this coldest time of the year.

Into Norman times the Marquis of Northampton built his fortress of Castle Ashby. It is thought that he believed, at a time of Saxon rebellions, that constructing his castle from this sacred wood would protect him from all attack. (The Marquis, after all, had other problems - due to a terrible spelling mistake his wife confused him with a Marquee, and using him for parties and receptions).

So there we have the history of Ash Wednesday. Now get out there and repent!